Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Disruptive Technologies and Business Models

Disruption: inducing radical and sudden change; a radical change in an industry, business strategy, etc., especially involving the introduction or a new product or service that creates a new market. 

The Internet was perhaps the most disruptive development. Timesharing was a disruptive concept in many industries. Low-cost airlines (Southwest Airlines, JetBlue, etc.) disrupted legacy carriers (United Airlines, American Airlines, etc.). ATMs made it much easier for consumers to bank 24/7. Amazon.com disrupted Borders and other brick and mortar bookstores. Some would claim that Amazon.com is beginning to disrupt Wal-Mart. eBay and Craigslist have disrupted traditional classified ads. Netflix disrupted Blockbuster. Digital photography (invented at Kodak) disrupted Kodak's film-based photography. SmartPhone cameras have changed the way people take pictures. Electronic greeting cards are disrupting traditional greeting cards. CarMax was intended to disrupt traditional used car dealers. Uber is disrupting traditional taxi service. Airbnb is disrupting the hospitality market. SmartPhones have made traditional phones obsolete. They are also making major inroads in the the markets for other computing devices.

Match.com, eHarmony.com and other dating websites have changed the way we find romantic partners. Online universities are intended to disrupt traditional colleges and universities. All-electric cars (such as Tesla) will eventually disrupt gasoline powered cars. And more powerful batteries/energy storage will elevate electricity as an energy source. Artificially intelligent medical diagnosis software is projected to radically change the role of the internal medicine doctor. Big data is radically changing the way marketing is executed. Facebook is changing the degree to which customer targeting can occur. 

Nanotechnology makes devices and components significantly cheaper, faster and more functional. 3D printing will be disruptive to many industries. Photonics is radically changing the traditional semiconductor world. Cloud services are changing the way we back up computers. Crowd sourcing is changing the way people raise money for projects. The Square and similar devices have made it much easier and less expensive for anyone to accept credit cards as a form of payment. Alta Devices is making it easier to embed thin, flexible solar panels into any device or material. 

Is your brand defined in a way that it can transcend and incorporate disruptive technologies? Or is it so linked to an approach or technology that could be obsolete that it will die with the old approach or technology? Further, are people in your organization willing to make their current approaches or technologies obsolete with the latest disruptive technology or are they fighting the disruptive technology all the way to maximize profits until the business and brand crashes and burns. This is something worth thinking about.


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